Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Exposed India - A terribly hot day and a scarey ride

***I'm posting this from my iPhone in India so I can't upload the images yet, will do so when I get back home***

The morning started with my favourite Indian fried dough - the vadai. Then it was off to the Koovagam festival again. Today we'll be shooting the "widows" as they break their bangles and mourn in white sarees. 

When we arrived, there was a massive jam of vehicles, cattle and people so we decided to walk across the field. It turned out to be quite a trek as the distance was far. As we were walking towards the village area, we noticed everyone else walking away. One man told our guide that someone had a little too much to drink and died in the fields. Yikes! But still the show must go on so we continued. 

There was plenty of action at the village, groups of Hijra widows were beating their chests and mourning by chanting. Some familiar faces from last night were there as well. There was also the procession of the Aaravan podium I had to shoot. The wait in the 36degree heat for the podium to be pulled was unbearable. It was around this time I felt giddy and signs of fainting. Was told that I didn't drink enough water and probably dehydrated. After a litre of water down and a short rest in the shade, I was ready to go again.  

We walked to the village area where the bangles worn by the Hijras were broken by the priests. This area had a carnival like atmosphere with regular families and lots of kids running around the grounds. There were hand operated carousels and ferris wheels, ice-cream and balloons and even a shooting booth where you can try your luck at winning a toy. I spied a young mother breastfeeding her toddler under a tree and asked if I can take a picture and she obliged. Seeing the little girl suckling contentedly, I thought of Dylan again. How I miss the little squirt!

It took a long while to find an English speaking Hijra in white saree to be interviewed. Our director Raja scrapped the idea and we shot some widows having a bath in the river instead. Then it was the long trek back to our vehicle through the fields again. We had to be careful not to tread on lumps of human and cattle faeces along the way. Funny quip of the day by cameraman Michael,"Shit! I stepped on shit!" Hahaha!

After lunch, the rest of the day was ours. Raja wanted to visit a friend in the French town of Pondicherry and Michael, Azira and I decided to tag along. The driver we hired was one hell driver! If I had balls, they would have shrunk! I can't tell you how many times during the ride I thought it's my last. We sat by the balcony of a hotel cafe with French architecture to have a beer and dinner. The place overlooked the sea and a full moon, it was lovely. We forgot that we were in India for awhile.

The ride back *shudder* was another terrible experience. Especially since it was dark now. The oncoming vehicles have their high beams on and each time Arun cuts into oncoming traffic, I closed my eyes and hoped for the best. Even Mike, who's unfazed by most situations, put on his seatbelt and chose to take a nap to avoid screaming at Arun.  I've never been happier to arrive at our dingy hotel after what seemed like an eternity in Arun's car. I'm still alive!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Exposed India - The Adventure Begins

***I'm posting this from my iPhone in India so I can't upload the images yet, will do so when I get back home***

It's 425am, Dylan rustles in his sleep and turns towards me for what could potentially be his last feed on the breast. As I cuddle him while he nurses, my mind started its train of silly thoughts again. What if my plane crashes or I don't make it back home alive? This would be my last few moments with my sons and husband. Am I being selfish embarking on this project? Can I back out now? +smack* My conscience gives me a tight slap and I got up, determined to make this a fruitful and exciting journey :)   

The flight was uneventful apart from this hilarious Indian movie that was showing. It was shot entirely in Singapore and cracked me up despite me not wearing the headphones and just reading the English subtitles. Touch down! Happiest moment for the day :p

It's 35degrees, still bearable. Now 23years ago when I first came to India, what struck me when we first got on the road was a COW walking on the street! This time round, less youthful and with a few wrinkles, I noticed a little boy walking around barefoot instead of the free roaming cattle. Thoughts of my sons surface again. 

After a road journey that's almost as long as our flight, we arrive at our hotel in Viluppuram. I caught sight of a couple of Hijras at the crowded lobby. They looked pretty! Nothing like what I imagined them to be. The one in pink turned around and started to talk to me in fluent english. She was very friendly and I wanted so much to point my iPhone at her for a picture but I decided it wasn't time yet.

The Koovagam festival had me worried before we got there. I was afraid of witnessing the castration of a little boy but thankfully there was none of that. Instead, it was a sea of chaos, men, women, kids and hijras all jostling around the grounds to get to the temple and festivities. As a chinese, i stuck out like a sore thumb more so than any caucasian there. Many of the hijras were friendly to me and smiled and chatted when there were opportunities. Some were more rowdy, some were more beautiful, some were more open about their sexuality. In the temple where the priest ties the talli around those who wishes to be "married" to Aaravan, that was when I felt most uneasy. The pushing and shoving, the intense heat and stuffiness in the dark, small confined space was unbearable. My camera couldn't help finding the babies and kids who were there with their caregivers. There was something about their innocence in contrast with what the festival signify. Seeing kids the age of my sons made me tear and miss them, wondering how they are getting on without me.

It's been a long day, I showered and went to sleep, too tired to run through my shots. Zzzzzzzzz.....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chubby Charlette

This bundle of cuteness belongs to our Bloom client Jo & Wil :) Although she came a month early, she's still pretty chubby at 13 days old. The first shot of her on the couch is taken a week and a half later when we went to Jo's place for a video shoot (more on this in another post). Thanks Jo and Wil for being so kind to let us film at your home for the documentary and also many thanks for recommending your friends to our studio :) Hope to see little Charlette again soon!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mama no more

In Erwin's family, they call grandma "mama" and mother "mummy". So when Dylan started calling me "mama", my mother-in-law kept correcting him to call me "mummy". Of cos he didn't and this went on for a few months till my mother-in-law's birthday dinner celebrations on the 27th of March last month. During dinner and since then, he has been calling me "mummy"! :) How peculiar kids are.

Dylan also did some modelling for my friend's blogshop Poppletots. He did really well! Even with the countless outfit changes, he did not grumble and was most obliging in front of the camera when we asked him to jump, smile, pose etc.

doesn't he look like a little Jason Mraz here? :D

i reckon this will be the last time i can shoot him naked with his baby fats (not much left)

rocker to the max!

So I thought since he did so well in the studio, shouldn't be too bad if I used him for the ION Orchard fashion shoot and he outdid himself there too as you can see from this post. Here is my favourite picture from the shoot.

I am not one of those mothers who constantly brag about their kids but this time I would like to brag that besides being a great actor, Dylan is a supermodel too! kekeke

Sunday, April 4, 2010

you got PUNKed!

I have never participated in a serious photography contest before, I guess I'm just lazy. A magazine I am advertising in alerted me to a photography contest they were running together with ION Orchard. So just for fun (ok ok the prizes were quite attractive!) I thought I would take part. We had to do a fashion shoot on location at ION.

I know nuts about fashion and had no access to professional adult models so I thought why not use kids (my own plus a couple of my Little Big Shots clients) as my models and my staff Charlene and her boyfriend Kevin also modelled for me. Pupsik Studio very kindly loaned us the pettiskirt for the shoot and Poppletots provided the rock themed pins for the kids.

We had big plans after we recce the building a few days before. I wanted the characters of the shoot to be a punk rock family. I wanted to bring down my small amplifier together with my husband's electric guitar and get a kid's size drumset so they would look really cute with those props! BUT we had only the few of us and no extra hands and limited time, so we scrapped the idea of the props and just went ahead with clothes and the pins.

As luck would have it, it RAINED heavily that morning we scheduled to shoot. So we had to shoot indoors instead. We decided on a very challenging shoot on the long escalator inside of ION. I must say it paid off! The shots indoors were great! We had a little accident with Jaymus but thankfully he's ok. They say never work with kids and you know how true that is :p Dylan refused to be near Jaymus and bawled his lungs out whenever we put them near each other. Aelia was all smiley whenever we were NOT shooting :p Char and Kev did well :) And thanks to mummies Cyrene and Davilia for helping out with the shoot especially Davilia who helped hold the flash. Come work for me again next shoot, haha!

We have to submit a maximum of 5 images for the contest, I can't decide which to choose and just for fun I did a few pages of "fashion spread" for your viewing (and laughing) pleasure ;)

Friday, April 2, 2010


A few weeks ago we had a heat spell which created a few bushfires in Punggol. I found this spot near our place which I thought would be cool to do a shoot at but it wasn't exactly burnt enough.

Oh what the heck :p

Brought the boys there this morning before we head for the beach. They were not the best of models and I feel the evening sun would have worked better. But anyway, here are the pix :)